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Frawley takes centre stage

PRO14: Leinster v Dragons, Live TG4/eir Spt 1 (KO 8.15)

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Ciarán Frawley has been picked at No 12 as Leo Cullen looks at his options for the future

Ciarán Frawley has been picked at No 12 as Leo Cullen looks at his options for the future

SPORTSFILE

Ciarán Frawley has been picked at No 12 as Leo Cullen looks at his options for the future

Having impressed in the role against Ulster, 22-year-old Ciarán Frawley gets a chance to show his wares at inside centre alongside Johnny Sexton in tonight's Guinness PRO14 opener against Dragons.

The Skerries native has played most of his senior rugby at out-half, but with Joe Tomane gone and Conor O'Brien injured it looks like he will get plenty of chances in the No 12 shirt this season.

This game, however, offers him a chance to play with Sexton and Garry Ringrose before they disappear on Ireland duty. Facing him is Jamie Roberts who'll test his defensive mettle.

Ability

Robbie Henshaw is fit and will probably play next week, but Frawley offers the team something different in terms of his ability to step in as a distributor and spread the play.

"We need to broaden some of our options," Cullen said of the selection as he referenced Conor O'Brien's injury, Tomane's absence and Tommy O'Brien's ability to cover inside centre.

"We think Ciarán can do a very, very good job for the team there.

"He's a very skilled footballer and he's gone well with some of the opportunities that he's had, so it's something that we're keen to invest some time in."

Dragons arrive with a stronger squad than we've seen for some time, but they'll face a strong Leinster 23 full of internationals.

Interestingly, Hugo Keenan and Jordan Larmour switch as Leinster look to learn the lessons of their defeat to Saracens but this should be far more comfortable.

Leinster have named an experienced pack and an impactful bench, with Rhys Ruddock back in the starting XV and Max Deegan returned to the bench.

With Ireland full-back Larmour on the wing, Ulster's clash with Benetton is another chance for Jacob Stockdale to impress in the full-back role.

The 24-year-old endured a difficult day against Toulouse on the wing and Dan McFarland brings him back into the No 15 role he occupied for much of the post-lockdown period.

With Billy Burns injured, Michael Lowry is selected at out-half with Bill Johnston deputising on the bench. Ian Madigan misses out on the match-day 23.

LEINSTER: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose, C Frawley, J Lowe; J Sexton (capt), J Gibson-Park; E Byrne, R Kelleher, M Bent; S Fardy, J Ryan; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan. Reps: S Cronin, C Healy, A Porter, R Baird, M Deegan, L McGrath, R Byrne, T O'Brien.

ULSTER: J Stockdale; C Gilroy, J Hume, S Moore, R Lyttle; M Lowry, J Cooney; J McGrath, R Herring, M Moore; S Carter, I Henderson (capt); M Rea, S Reidy, M Coetzee. Reps: A McBurney, E O'Sullivan, G Milasinovich, D O'Connor, D McCann, A Mathewson, B Johnston, L Ludik.